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updated: 2/14/2011 11:26 AM

North Central College festival celebrates Chinese New Year

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  • Participants of all ages will be able to celebrate the Chinese New Year during festivities tonight at Naperville's North Central College. The event will offer a variety of activities, including performances and culture stations, where visitors can explore calligraphy, paper cutting, Chinese games and toys and more.

      Participants of all ages will be able to celebrate the Chinese New Year during festivities tonight at Naperville's North Central College. The event will offer a variety of activities, including performances and culture stations, where visitors can explore calligraphy, paper cutting, Chinese games and toys and more.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • North Central College's celebration of the Chinese New Year will open tonight with a traditional Chinese Lion Dance.

      North Central College's celebration of the Chinese New Year will open tonight with a traditional Chinese Lion Dance.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

It's the snap, crackle, pop of Bubble Wrap fireworks filling the air with sounds of celebration for the Chinese New Year.

That's always North Central College Professor Annie Liu's favorite part of the annual festival.

It brings a smile to her face every year.

"We bought two rolls of Bubble Wrap this year," said Liu, who teaches Chinese. "So we have more for the little kids and our college kids get to do it, too."

The Naperville school's Chinese New Year Festival, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, is a free celebration for all ages that includes instruments and music, a traditional Lion Dance, kung fu demonstrations, culture stations and traditional food.

"I'm really excited because I can bring the Chinese culture on campus and introduce them to students who had no prior knowledge or bit of understanding of it," she said.

The festival opens with an energetic performance of the Chinese Lion Dance -- a dance that includes gongs and drums and colorful costumes, and that holds significance because it is said to drive evil spirits away and bring good luck in this New Year, the Year of the Rabbit.

An event favorite is the performances by Illinois Shaolin Kung Fu, followed by a session on Qinna, pronounced Chin-nuh, self-defense.

It's something that takes years of practice and perfection and discipline, like ballet or gymnastics, Liu said. It's a little bit like one person who can do a cartwheel, and another who can do one after another after another.

"You can feel the power and you can feel the excellence, and that's what fascinates people," Liu said.

New this year is an introduction to the Chinese violin, called the Erhu, which creates music with only two strings.

"That's amazing," Liu said. "There are lots of things (at the festival that) they've never seen or heard of before."

People can stop by several culture stations and explore calligraphy, paper cutting, Chinese games and toys and more.

Chinese food, tea, candy and oranges will be for sale.

Immediately following the lion dance, children and students will hop on the rolls of Bubble Wrap to ring in the New Year with what sounds like a loud fireworks display.

"That really lightens me up," Liu said. "I can hear those popping sounds that only take place for less than a minute, and that's the most exciting part of the festival for me."

The Chinese New Year Festival takes place in the White Activities Center, 325 E. Benton Ave., Naperville.

For information, call (630) 637-7469 or visit northcentralcollege.edu/show.

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